President of the IEICE Electronics Society
Minoru Fujishima (Hiroshima University)
Over the next year, I intend to usher in the revitalization of the Society by utilizing ICT technology, which is one of the Society’s areas of expertise.
The Electronics Society consists of three research areas: Electromagnetic-wave related technologies, Photonics related technologies, and Circuit, devices and interdisciplinary technologies. In each of these research areas, we have studied semiconductor technology itself and its applications using simulation tools that have been developed by semiconductor technology. In recent years, the importance of semiconductor technology has been increasingly recognized from the perspective of economic security. My specialty is analog integrated circuits, one of the semiconductor technologies. During a chat at a meeting the other day, I received conflicting opinions: “Isn’t it too difficult to gain popularity among students because the research is too difficult?” and “How can it not be popular because students can be hired at high salaries if they have design skills?” The basic technology area of electronics that our society targets is important, but it is not necessarily well shared with the younger generation in Japan. On the other hand, many international students who are not Japanese understand the importance of semiconductors, even among the same younger generation, but it is difficult to claim that our society is providing the services they seek.
The major challenges for the IEICE are the decline in the number of members and the decline in the number of journal submissions. Regarding the number of members, the number of society members in their 30s is only about half of those in their 50s, even when normalized by the population distribution by age in Japan. Therefore, we are trying to increase the attractiveness of the society by holding bullet presentations to appeal to younger members and by providing administrative support to reduce the administrative workload of younger members. The Electronics Society also organizes various seminars and contests for students and young members through research meetings.
On the other hand, looking at the journal, as those of you who have submitted to and reviewed papers for the IEICE English journal know, peer review is strict, and publication is no easier than for the IEEE journal. However, it is natural for contributors to want to submit to journals that have a high probability of being read, or to be accepted by journals with high impact factors for their own promotion. Therefore, although the quality of journals is not necessarily low, the number of papers submitted voluntarily is decreasing; some people even think that the IEICE does not need a journal when there are world-renowned journals such as IEEE.
However, in Japan, IEICE has played a major role in climbing the professional ladder. It holds a variety of meetings, including biannual national congresses, regular workshops, and international conferences that are suitable for debuts of English-language presentations. This infrastructure is the value of the society. Although there is a lot on the menu for young people, the reality is that this has not been well shared, and young people do not seem to think that the society is one that they would voluntarily want to join. There is also the issue of name recognition, as in, “What is the IEICE?” Also, even if the society tries to appeal to students, it may not be able to reach them.
As an idea to solve these problems, two years ago, when I was the vice president in charge of editing and publishing, I wrote about the use of automatic translation in the preface of the newsletter titled “Future Vision of IEICE Transactions Aiming to be a True International Academic Organization. Since the IEICE has a high download rate for Japanese-language articles and Japanese-language invited papers, I suggested that we develop a multilingual version of the content for non-English speaking people, not limited to English. Dr. Takehiko Kawazoe, the newly appointed President of IEICE, declared in his opening address that he would establish a multilingual translation platform and make IEICE an international academic organization that overcomes language barriers. This has already been taken up by the Finance Committee, and the Translation and Speech Recognition Platform WG has been launched, along with speech recognition to promote barrier-free access. I would like to help in a small way as a member of that WG. If we can create a platform that can overcome language barriers, papers can be read in multiple languages and be seen by more people than ever before. Foreigners up to the third year of undergraduate living abroad can read the contents of the conference in their native language for free if they become junior members.
Cooperation with industry and academia is another important issue for the academic society. Among the membership, the number of corporate members has been declining particularly markedly. In order to make the academic society function as a receptacle for corporate activities and revive it as a new venue for industry-academia collaboration, the Corporate Initiative WG was launched as a place for company-centered activities. The idea is for companies themselves to propose themes that will enhance the value of their businesses, and for each theme to set up a subcommittee led by the proposing company to discuss it. Although companies propose the themes for the subcommittees, academia and other companies can also participate, and the WG is expected to serve as a venue for the creation of new value and industry-academia collaboration. The president of the Electronics Society will continue to be a university faculty member for five consecutive years from 2019 until at least 2023, but we hope to build the society as a place for industry-academia collaboration with the help of our corporate members.
No matter how good a top-down attempt is initiated, it is difficult for the attempt to spread widely. If the content is not well understood, it will end up not spreading contrary to expectations. On the other hand, if people are satisfied and sympathize with the service, they will become influencers and the service will spread. In order to gain empathy, it is important that not only the content but also the intent of the project be shared with the users correctly, and that the project be brushed up and nurtured little by little.
So far, as president-elect, I have studied under former president Takahashi for one year, but there is not much that can be done in one year. I would like to inherit the various thoughts of my predecessors, pass them on to the next generation, and contribute to the development of the Electronic Society of Japan while spreading empathy.